A big part of personal brand is identifying what it is that allows you to offer something in a way no one else can. Writing your story can be a painstaking task as it’s hard to take an objective view of your own journey. It’s also never quite “done”, constantly evolving as you, your career and your life do. 

But it can also be pretty liberating when what you might see as a weakness – something which makes your trajectory less than ideal – turns out to be something to be highlighted and amplified as a distinguishing feature.

I asked four entrepreneurs which characteristics or elements of their past they had perceived as a weakness, but now saw as a defining piece in their story and how they do business. Here’s what they shared.

Shyness develops empathy

“As a child, I was embarrassed of my shyness but, I’ve come to see this perceived fault as what made me ‘me’” says Annie Ridout, an author, journalist and editor of digital parenting platform The Early Hour

“Being quiet taught me to listen. I learned that asking questions deflected the attention away from me. It taught me empathy, as I was more aware of people’s pain than someone loud and more theatrical might have been. I was spending my time observing others.” 

Experience in an industry you dislike can build vital skills

“I used to work in recruitment and was almost ashamed” says Lara Sheldrake, founder of Found & Flourish, an online membership, media and events platform for women in business. 

“I was good at it, but disliked the industry. It turns out, that experience is what enabled me to ‘matchmake’ people, network and build what is now an incredibly engaged community of women in business.”

Kindness as a secret business-building weapon

Lara also shares, “I always felt my kindness was a weakness. I felt I’d never be able to build a successful business – I’d have the saying ‘nice guys finish last’ go round my head. What I’ve learned is that kindness is actually a secret weapon in the world of business and people remember those who are kind to them. They’re far more likely to want to build a relationship with you, which is essentially how business is done”

Chatterbox or expert storyteller

“I used to be called a chatterbox like it was a bad thing when I was growing up. I’d get in trouble for running up the phone bill on the landline” says Lucy Werner, PR expert and founder of The Wern, a communications consultancy for startups. 

“Don’t get me wrong I love silent time too, but I love sharing stories with other people, which is the basis of communications.” Lucy’s recently published book, Hype Yourself is a no-nonsense guide on how small businesses can do their own publicity.

An HSP can create a powerfully connected community

“I’ve always been a highly emotional soul, always felt like I ‘feel too much’” says Emma Merry, founder of Home Milk, an online interiors inspiration brand. 

“I realised I was taking on too much of other peoples sh*t and not dealing with my own. But I think there’s strength in there, something to do with compassion and humanity. I feel like this has been present in my approach to Home Milk, not just with the homeowners, but also the followers, I want it to feel like a space where we can be ourselves, sharing our homes and dreams in a supportive community.”

So for anyone tying themselves up in knots worrying about a less than perfect back story, take note and get some objective eyeballs on it. In an age where personal brand is everything, your flaw may just turn out to be your superpower.